To the Editor:
I am writing in support of the Newport teachers in anticipation of the school vote on March 12.
In the last 10 years, the teachers’ contract has failed six times! That means that teachers’ salaries have gotten further and further behind those in surrounding towns.. We have seen many good teachers leave to find a town where teachers are valued more.
Last year, for example, more than 27 teachers resigned from our district, many because of the failure of the contract. And because the scramble to find new teachers wasn’t always successful, a number of teachers have left during the school year.
Each year this happens, our school system is weakened, and students suffer. A stable teaching staff means that the initiatives to help improve student achievement are continued and improved upon each year. A disruption means that these initiatives are forgotten or new teachers have to be brought up to speed.
Frequent administration changes have also plagued our district. Each time a new superintendent or principal has taken over, programs and initiatives that have proved positive have been dropped. Sometimes, a new person brings new fresh ideas, but we can’t always start over and expect that what has been working will be continued.
As co-principal of Towel School with Peggy McKinney for 15 years, we enjoyed a stable staff of excellent teachers. Many new initiatives were begun by our staff, including a five-year grant that we received to help us with student behavior, PBIS, that then was adopted by Richards School. We were well on our way to an elementary set of procedures and expectations. That is no longer in use because of the change in staff.
The Learning Network, a literacy program voluntarily open to teachers, was an important part of our reading and writing program. The reading and language arts curriculum was written to align with the teachings of the Learning Network. That is also no longer in use.
Towle introduced RTI, an improvement program for reading and math that was also initiated during that time. Data showed that it was working and the staff worked very hard to make it a positive successful program, but it is no longer a regular program. A consistent staff of teachers and paraprofessionals is so important to the stability of a school.
A good school is the best way to attract new people and new businesses to Newport, both of which gives us a better tax base. A good school would keep more of our young people in Newport after graduation. A good school attracts and keeps and supports good teachers. As a life-long Newporter who has dedicated my entire career to the Newport School District, it pains me to hear negative things about the schools, or to read in real estate reports that our schools are lowly rated. I know many excellent teachers in Newport, but without the consistency and support of the town, we will lose them, too. Please support them and vote Yes for Article 4 on March 12,
Lifelong Newport Resident
Retired teacher and principal from the Newport School System